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Girls' Best Friend

Bright and sparkly. Gemstones came to my mind when I was removing this Dragon Fruit and Orange jelly from the mould. Like a combination of gemstones...rubies, amber and diamonds, all in one!

Dragon's Eyes

The literal translation for the name of a small brown, juicy exotic fruit from the lands of Asia, known as Longan in Chinese, packed into these muffins


A taste from the humble beginnings, the Long Bean Rice brings back beautiful memories of the yesteryears

Light and Fluffy

Lemon, Yogurt and Cranberries~a nice blend of flavours in a light and fluffy chiffon cake

Bread Stories

Asian style buns ~ Popular as breakfast food or snack, sweet/savoury fillings wrapped in soft, cottony bread

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Brinjal Curry in a Toast Box

I love brinjals aka aubergine aka eggplant, whichever name you choose to call it and I was craving for it.  I don't get to eat it often enough because that's one vege that no other family members like except me.   I hardly cook it as a main dish, at most I will add one into a dish that allows me to, like fish curry for example.  

Since I was going to make something for myself only on that day, a little pampering will be in order :)  Initially I had the Japanese style grilled eggplant, Nasu Dengaku in mind but while surfing for recipes I chanced upon this eggplant curry.   It looked good plus it was a no fuss and healthy version of a curry.  No meat, no frying of the brinjal and no coconut milk.   

And I had a freshly made Pullman loaf.  I thought it would be nice to eat it with some bread.  So, here it is, looking a wee bit more fancy than just slabbing it on a slice of bread.    

I cut out the inner part of the bread into little cubes, then toasted them before laying a layer back into the toast box. Then i filled it up with some brinjal curry and topped it with some sambal belacan.

And again for dinner minus the box :) 

It is a slightly tangy and light version of a curry.   Inspirations were from My darling lemon thyme and Spicie Foodie.  I made some changes to the original recipe to suit my taste. 

For this post, it shall be the recipe for the curry, shall talk more about the bread in another.  The bread is also another new recipe that I have discovered and have fallen in love with! Easy yet produces a nice loaf of bread that can be easily adapted for different flavours.


  • 2 medium size brinjals, cut into thin rectangles
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsbp chilli paste
  • 1/2 cup water

  1. Heat cooking oil in a pan then fry onion until onion is soft and golden brown in colour.
  2. Add in ginger, garlic and cumin/fennel seeds.  Stir fry until smells fragrant.
  3. Add in ground turmeric, chilli paste and chili/curry powder. 
  4. Add in tomatoes and fry until they start to soften.
  5. Add in brinjal.  Mix well to ensure brinjal is coated with spices.
  6. Add in water.
  7. Cover and simmer under medium low heat until brinjal is soft and gravy is at preferred thickness. 
  8. Season with salt and adjust spiciness to taste if necessary.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Touching Daddy's Heart with Dim Sum (点心)

Happy Father's Day to all fathers out there!  It's your day, do nothing, just give yourself a good break, sit back, relax and enjoy all the pampering showered upon you :)

To the daddies in my life, thank you for all that you have done for us, for all the love that you have showered, for being there and most of all for just being you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Helped kid to prepare this chinese style dim sum breakfast for his dad today, well maybe it was more me than him doing the job :)  We decided on this knowing the Chinaman that papa is at heart.  Moreover i thought the meaning of dim sum (点心), the general name given to these little morsels can't be more apt for this special day.   To those who are not familiar, dim sum means to touch the heart :)

Pork and shrimp siew mai plus shrimp spring roll with fruits at the side served with osmanthus tea.  

These two variations are quite easily made, something that kids can participate in.  The night before, I prepared the filling for the siew mai and the shrimps for the spring roll.  After looking at a few recipes, I found that the ingredients for the siew mai filling is quite similar, most of them use a 2:1 ratio for pork  to prawn ratio.  So, I played around from there.  All we did were to wrap and steam the siew mai this morning.  As for the prawn spring rolls, the prawns were marinated for 30 minutes before wrapping and frying them.  Although they might not be the best dim sum, they did touch Daddy's heart with all the love wrapped in them :)  

Osmanthus and dried longan tea to go with the dim sum.

Recipe-Shrimp Spring Roll
Reference : Rasa Malaysia 

  • 15 medium sized shrimps, shelled and deveined but leave the tail on
  • 15 pieces spring roll wrappers (small size)
  • 15 pieces coriander leave (inspired by Nasi Lemak Lover)
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked for sealing

  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger Juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper

  1. Pat dry the shrimps with paper towels and marinate with the Marinade ingredients. 
  2. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Lay shrimp on one corner of spring roll skin.  Fold in the other two corners to have 2 parallel sides then start rolling to wrap shrimp.
  4. Before the last fold, lay a coriander leave then fold and seal edges with egg white.
  5. Heat up some oil in a frying pan then deep fry until golden brown.
  6. Serve hot with some chilli sauce.

Recipe-Siew Mai

  • 150g shrimp meat (shell, devein and smash with back of cleaver then mince coarsely)
  • 300g minced pork
  • 2 dried shitake mushrooms (soaked to soften then diced)
  • Round dumpling wrappers (small size)
  • Ebiko as toppings
    Seasonings for filling
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1 tbsp Hua Tiao wine
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tbsp tapioca flour
    • 1 medium egg (lightly beaten)
    1. Mix shrimp meat with minced pork.  Add in seasonings, use only 1/3 part of egg.  
    2. Stir in one direction until become shiny gluey paste.  Best to rest filling for at least one hour or overnight for it to be firmer.
    3. Place a wrapper in palm.  Put 1 tsbp of filling in the centre.
    4. Wrap up sides by gently squeezing around siew mai with forefinger and thumb.
    5. Add a little more meat using a palette knife to cover the top of siew mai.
    6. Seal the top with some egg wash.
    7. Steam on high heat for around 8 minutes.  Do not overcook, meat will become tough. 
    8. Top each Siew Mai with Ebiko and serve immediately, with chilli sauce.

    Tuesday, 11 June 2013

    Duanwu with a Nyonya Twist

    Duanwu (端午节) Festival also known as Dumpling/Dragon Boat Festival falls on 12 June this year which is tomorrow!  I will spare myself from dishing out the story behind it and jump to the part on dumplings aka zongzi ( 粽子) or Chang in the Hokkien dialect.  It is during this time that we feast on rice dumplings stuffed with various fillings which are wrapped in bamboo leaves.

    I tried my hands at making my own Chang last year.  Unfortunately it didn't turn out too well.  But I think I pass the test this year. My changs didnt loosen or worse still opened up during the boiling process, besides tasting quite good unlike one of my past experience where it turned out totally bland.  Lesson learnt was one has to go heavy on the seasonings for the fillings as it tends to thin out during the boiling process.  And when that happens there's no rescue except to cry over it!

    I have chosen to do the Nyonya twist this time.  First up is the traditional Nyonya Chang.  I can still remember how it was love at first bite when I had a first taste of Nyonya Chang.  It was so delicious, bursting with a unique blend of flavors which is very different from the more common meat dumplings. A combination of pork, mushroom and winter melon fried in a mixture of coriander and fermented bean paste, sweeten with palm sugar and getting some savory flavors from soysauce.   And with some blue tinged rice from the blue pea flower, the nyonya chang looks pretty and sexy like a nyonya in her striking kebaya :)

    I used Amy Beh's recipe with some slight modification for this Nyonya Chang and I am very satisfied with the taste.

    Recipe - Nyonya Chang
    Source : (Amy Beh)
    Yields approximately 12 dumplings

    • 700g glutinous rice 
    • Some screwpine leaves, cut into 4 cm lengths
    • Dried bamboo leaves, washed and boiled until soften 
    • Hemp strings for tying
    • 2 tbsp salt
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 5 shallots, minced
    • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
    • ½ cup oil 
    • 3 tsp preserved soya bean paste (tau cheong)
    • 7 tbsp coriander powder (ground ketumbar), mixed with 170ml water into a paste (reduce to 5 tbsp)
    • 450g belly pork, skin removed and cut into very small cubes
    • 12-14 dried mushrooms, soaked and diced
    • 100g candied winter melon, diced
    Seasoning (combined)
    • 3 tsp pepper
    • 5½-6 tbsp sugar or to taste (replaced with gula melaka according to taste but slightly heavier)
    • 1 tbsp thick soy sauce (2 tbsp)
    • 1 tbsp light soy sauce (2 tbsp)
    • 2½-3 tsp salt or to taste
    • ½ tsp ground black pepper


    To prepare rice (I apportioned the rice to tinged some blue with the blue pea flower)
    1. Boil some water together with 30 blue pea flowers to get blue tinged water.
    2. Soak 200g of the rice with this water for at least 3 hours.
    3. Soak the rest of the rice with water at the same time.
    To prepare the filling
    1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan, fry shallots and garlic until aromatic. Add soya bean paste and coriander paste. Fry until fragrant.
    2. Add pork, winter melon and mushrooms, and mix in combined seasoning. Fry until pork is heated through. Dish out and set aside.
    To assemble the dumplings
    1. Drain the glutinous rice and briefly rinse the rice.
    2. Overlap 2 bamboo leaves lengthways then fold into a cone. 
    3. Fill in this order into the cone-2 tbsp blue glutinous rice, 2 tbsp filling, 2-3 tbsp white glutinous rice.
    4. Cover with a piece of screwpine leaf. Press down to compress the dumpling. Wrap into a pyramid shape. Tie tightly with hemp string to secure. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up.
    5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and sugar then put in the dumplings and immerse them completely. Cook in rapidly boiling water for 2-2½ hours. Remove the dumplings and hang them to drain off excess water. (I boiled mine in a pressure cooker for 45 minutes)

    I also tried another Nyonya variation that I thought was pretty interesting.  You never know what you will get when the Nyonya lends her touch,  I came across this Sambal Kiam Hoo (salted fish) Chang while flipping through the complimentary Malay Mail papers that the hotel provided when I was in Penang. The recipe is courtesy of Debbie Teoh, a popular Nyonya cuisine chef.

    Verdict? It's a unique combination of spicy and salty flavor.  The use of turmeric, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves gave it a fragrance similar to the rendang dish.  The mix of salted fish with some pork in a sambal like gravy was tasty and definitely something unlike a typical meat dumpling.

    Recipe - Sambal Kiam Hoo Chang
    Source : Debbie Teoh in Malay Mail, 7 June 2013
    Yields approximately 8-10 dumplings

    • 450g glutinous rice
    • 1 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder (replaced with 1 tbsp turmeric powder plus 2 tbsp shredded turmeric)
    • Dried bamboo leaves, washed and boiled until soften 
    • Hemp strings for tying
    • 1 tbsp salt
    • Some screwpine leaves, cut into 4 cm lengths
    • 15 dried chillies, soaked in hot water until soften
    • 10 shallots (120g), peeled
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 2 stalk lemon grass, finely sliced
    • 1cm fresh turmeric, skinned
    • 150g salted fish, cut into 0.5cm cubes (reduced to 120g)
    • 8 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
    • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar or to taste
    • 200g belly pork cut into 20 pieces measuring 1.5cm and marinated with pepper and 1 tsp sugar (cut into small cubes)

    To prepare rice
    1. Soak rice with water mixed with turmeric powder and shredded turmeric for at least 3 hours.
    To prepare the filling
    1. Blend chillies, shallots, garlic, lemongrass and turmeric to form a spice paste.
    2. Heat the cooking oil in a wok and deep fry salted fish until fragrant and light brown in colour.  Remove and set aside.
    3. Heat fresh cooil oil and saute spice paste until fragrant.  
    4. Add fried kiam hoo, kaffir lime leaves and sugar.  Stir until sugar has melted.
    To assemble the dumplings
    1. Drain the glutinous rice and briefly rinse the rice.
    2. Overlap 2 bamboo leaves lengthways then fold into a cone. 
    3. Fill in this order into the cone-2 tbsp glutinous rice, 2 tbsp of pork belly, 1 tbsp sambal kiam hoo,  2-3 tbsp glutinous rice.
    4. Cover with a piece of screwpine leaf. Press down to compress the dumpling. Wrap into a pyramid shape. Tie tightly with hemp string to secure. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up.
    5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and sugar then put in the dumplings and immerse them completely. Cook in rapidly boiling water for 1 1/2- 1 3/4 hour. Remove the dumplings and hang them to drain off excess water. (I boiled mine in a pressure cooker for 45 minutes)

    Note : Modifications in blue

    Happy Chang Feasting!

    Thursday, 6 June 2013

    Jamming with Mum

    Yes, jamming literally.... 

    We took advantage of the school holidays to go back to Mum's place for a short break.  All of us (including doggie because there's so much more space for her to runaround) always enjoy our time there.  Besides the pampering from folks, being in a laid back town is already a wonderful way to relax and unwind.  Simple lifestyle amidst  a more serene and green environment.      Kiddo loves it very much too (maybe he's a kampung boy at heart), it is where he gets his back to nature experiences.  He will ask grandpa to bring him around on a motorbike to visit nearby villages, farms and fishing ponds.  Often they come back with goodies like freshly pluck fruits or vegetables.  I really love this bond that the both of them share.

    While kiddo enjoys his time with dad, me and my mum had our share of fun too.  This time around we made apple jam with this big bag of granny smith apples that she bought at a bargain.   

    Mum helped me find the props used in the photos.  I hope the yesteryear feel in the photo came through :)    Some pretty old stuff here, besides the jam and the apples of course :)  The cross-stitched table cloth with the cute duckies is a gift my mum got from her student 40 years back!  That band around the bottle, old but not as old as the table cloth, is actually a beach wear accessory from Aloha land some 10 years ago.  It was among other stuff that we had left behind after leaving the nest but Mum never threw or gave them away instead continue keeping them well for us.  Stuff that have been forgotten but still evoking beautiful memories when they appear in front of our eyes again.  Thank you, Mum!  

    Although I made reference to some recipes and there are lots out there, we didn't follow any to a T.   Basically, recipes for fruit jams are quite similar, key ingredients being the fruit, water and sugar which are then cooked until fruit is soften with a thicken consistency.  But when apples are used, there is a slight difference.  Some recipes call for blending/pressing of the apples through a sieve while other don't after the apples are soften.   After tasting it, I decided to go through the extra step by pressing them through a sieve as there was this grainy feel to it.

    We loved the end result, one bottle for Mum and one for me.   One has got to make your own jam to know the difference between homemade and off the shelf ones.  It's much much more fruity and so much less sweet compared to off the shelf ones.   Good with bread, crackers, as fillings for buns or served on the side with pancakes or even roast.

    Reference : A Table for 2 or More and The Temptations

    • 1kg granny smith apples
    • 15 tbsp sugar (after 13 tbsp, add on per tablespoon basis to taste)
    • 400ml water
    • 2 pieces of 2 inch cinnamon stick
    • 5 cloves
    • Zest of 1 lemon
    • Juice from half a lemon
    1. Cut apple into chunks.  Put apples and water into a pot.  Bring water to a boil then allow to simmer until apples are soft.
    2. Press apple pieces through a sieve and discard skin.
    3. Put the puree back into the pot then add in sugar, lemon zest, juice and spices.  
    4. Put a saucer (to be used for checking if jam is ready) into the freezer.  Cook until thicken.  
    5. To check if jam is ready, place a spoonful of jam on saucer.  It if forms a blob instead of spreading out, it's ready.
    6. Pour jam into sterilised bottles.  Place the cap on and let it cool down.


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